Amide-type local anesthetics and human mesenchymal stem cells: clinical implications for stem cell therapy

Stem Cells Transl Med. 2014 Mar;3(3):365-74. doi: 10.5966/sctm.2013-0058. Epub 2014 Jan 16.


In the realm of regenerative medicine, human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are gaining attention as a cell source for the repair and regeneration of tissues spanning an array of medical disciplines. In orthopedics, hMSCs are often delivered in a site-specific manner at the area of interest and may require the concurrent application of local anesthetics (LAs). To address the implications of using hMSCs in combination with anesthetics for intra-articular applications, we investigated the effect that clinically relevant doses of amide-type LAs have on the viability of bone marrow-derived hMSCs and began to characterize the mechanism of LA-induced hMSC death. In our study, culture-expanded hMSCs from three donors were exposed to the amide-type LAs ropivacaine, lidocaine, bupivacaine, and mepivacaine. To replicate the physiological dilution of LAs once injected into the synovial capsule, each anesthetic was reduced to 12.5%, 25%, and 50% of the stock solution and incubated with each hMSC line for 40 minutes, 120 minutes, 360 minutes, and 24 hours. At each time point, cell viability assays were performed. We found that extended treatment with LAs for 24 hours had a significant impact on both hMSC viability and adhesion. In addition, hMSC treatment with three of the four anesthetics resulted in cell death via apoptosis following brief exposures. Ultimately, we concluded that amide-type LAs induce hMSC apoptosis in a time- and dose-dependent manner that may threaten clinical outcomes, following a similar trend that has been established between these particular anesthetics and articular chondrocytes both in vitro and in vivo.

Keywords: Adult stem cells; Apoptosis; Cytotoxic agents; Marrow stromal stem cells; Mesenchymal stem cells; Tissue regeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amides / pharmacology*
  • Anesthetics, Local / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Bupivacaine / pharmacology*
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lidocaine / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mepivacaine / pharmacology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ropivacaine
  • Time Factors


  • Amides
  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Ropivacaine
  • Lidocaine
  • Mepivacaine
  • Bupivacaine